Regaining Health, West Back in the Mix
WALTHAM - Now that he's finally getting healthy, Delonte West is starting to get his grove back. And with Rajon Rondo struggling to be effective on the offensive end, West appears to be getting his role in the point guard rotation back as well.
"The past couple of days is the first time I've felt 100% healthy all around my whole body," said West. "I can see the effects every day. I'm more confident going to the basket now. I'm putting it together."
As his body continues to regain its form, West is starting to regain his role as a key contributor for the Celtics. Aside from a buzzer-beater that finished off the Charlotte Bobcats in overtime in the second week of the season and a solid outing against Portland, compared to his contribution last year, West has been almost a non-factor so far.
While West has appeared in 12 of the Celtics 13 games, his minutes have fluctuated as the injuries have come and gone. Whether it was back pain, an infected toe or other assorted bumps and bruises, West has been banged up since October and is only now finally back to feeling good.
When he's healthy like he was against the Blazers, Delonte West can make an impact. (Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty)
And while he started off the year playing at shooting guard, he's seen most of his recent action at the point guard spot backing up Sebastian Telfair, while Rondo has seen his minutes decrease as he goes through the natural growing pains that most NBA rookies experience.
Coach Doc Rivers explained that Rondo is out of the point guard mix for now because he hasn't yet proved to be an offensive threat. Rivers did say that Rondo will be more utilized in certain games for his defensive and trapping abilities, but for now, the backup role belongs to West.
"Delonte's played the position, he's a better shooter, he spreads the floor," Rivers said after Tuesday's practice at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint in Waltham.
West says, as he did all summer and during training camp when the team brought in Telfair and Rondo to play the point, that he's willing to play whatever role he's given.
"I'm a guard. I'm a player on this team. However they want to use me, it's good that I have point guard skills from the years under my belt playing point guard so I feel comfortable out there," said West. "There's times when the teams are going small and Wally and Paul are in the post, they can dish it out and use me as a weapon."
West actually thinks that playing shooting guard most days in early season practices has helped his play at the point guard spot.
"Playing off the ball every day in practice has allowed me to get more aggressive in looking for my shot," said West. "What our team needs form the point guard spot is to keep the other team honest and also be a threat out there, not just a ball-mover."
As for some struggles with his shot in recent games, West is confident better days are ahead, and he spends 15-20 minutes after practice working on his shot with the coaching staff. Today he was coming off imaginary screens, set courtesy of a plastic trash barrel, catching a shooting baseline and elbow jumpers from about 20 feet.
"It's early in the season," said West. "I know my shots going to fall, I've just got to keep shooting."